Sunday, November 21, 2010

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

There are big things going on in the world. None of them are going on in my head. My head is cluttered and disorganized. Much like most of my house. I'm trying to think of tomorrow as a fresh start. Most of the November craziness (most of it good) is over, some wonderful people watched my kids for most of the week-end, and my parents are back for my second husband-less week so if I have to go to the doctor again at least the people I stick the other kid or kids with while I'm stuck in rush hour traffic will be largely obligated to still like me.

Let's talk about books! This one was about a famous clown named Kaspar Krone -- an extraordinarily perceptive man who hears people's emotions and experiences as music, and who can sense events and surroundings from miles away. There's something about unpaid taxes, his ailing father, some kidnapped children, a disappeared lover and a taxi driver with artificial legs. The book was a strange mix of mystery thriller and meandering philosophical treatise. The reviews I read on Goodreads were mixed --some people love Hoeg's unhurried, poetic style and some people wonder why on earth other people love it. I did enjoy reading the book in small spurts -- every section was a gorgeous tactile experience, beautifully textured and coloured. I couldn't read a lot of it at once, though, and I didn't feel a lot of urgency to pick it up again.

This one -- oh, that doesn't work, because I have to say it was called Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Because for some reason, I was surprised when it turned out to actually BE about salmon fishing. In the Yemen. I expected it to be a collection of short stories about disaffected modern youth, or a meditation on growing older and not knowing whether to refinish a rocking chair or seek romance with a circus worker, or something. Someone in book club put it on the list, so I wrote it down and promptly forgot about it until I checked the list and realized I had to read it. I didn't really like it. It seemed like satire in some places -- sending up the hypocrisy and laziness of government departments, the self-servingness and duplicity of politicians -- but the character of the sheik who wants to make salmon fishing in the Yemen possible is quite sympathetic and seems sincerely drawn. The ending doesn't seem to fit in with either tone. I often have trouble with satire -- it has to tread a very fine line or it risks just being stupid. But then I hated the Austin Powers movies, so maybe my husband's right and my sense of humour just leaves something to be desired.

Tomorrow I will endeavour to tidy up my house and my headspace.

5 comments:

Kelly said...

Interesting reviews. I'm really into YA literature right now, but maybe I'll find it in me to try something more adult. Though, artificial legs and salmon fishing may not be the top of my list. ;)

Mary Lynn said...

Really? You hated Austin Powers movies? Me too! I know TONS of people who loved them. I couldn't even manage to finish the first one, I thought it was so bad.

I used to get razzed about it at work, way back when the movies first came out. A couple of my coworkers even bought me a stuffed Austin Powers head that, when you banged it on your desk or threw it against a wall, said things like "yeah baby!" and "shagadellic!" The stuffed head I liked...but the movie? Notsomuch.

Gwen said...

Wow. It doesn't sound like you recommend either one of those books.

I'm still waiting on "Far To Go" (now I'm only 28th in line!). Just read "The Help". Couldn't put it down... much to the frustration of my husband and children. I tell them that they have to bring their A game if they want to compete with my books!

Sandra said...

Ya, I'm not big into satire...or salmon fishing!
And no, I'm quite certain your sense of humour is just fine. I think you need to smoke something whacky in order to fully appreciate Austin Powers...not that I'd know or anything...just sayin'...

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